The Power of the Menu

The Power of the Menu

Creating a weekly menu for 6 people that everyone is going to eat (happily) can seem overwhelming.  Especially if there are picky eaters or special diets to contend with.

For picky eaters, and children in general, it is helpful to create a menu that can be posted.  This sends a different message to the household, and it also gives away some power, meaning that rather than think, “Why isn’t Mum home yet? I wonder what’s for supper?”, they can simply check out the menu and say, “Oh, I guess this is what we are having” and the argument just doesn’t happen.  It also  removes the “We never have anything good” from the equation, because everyone can see that we are having spaghetti on Wednesday and pizza on Friday (yes, there will be spinach salad with the spaghetti and Greek salad with the pizza).  

When deciding what we are going to eat, I often start with “Meatless” Monday, Turkey on Tuesdays and then Fish on Fridays.  I also make Saturday or Sunday a bigger meal, with a roast that will be used for another meal, or for lunches.  Other ideas are to offer one day a week to the kids to plan.  When it is my husband’s turn to cook, I usually plan for chicken breast or boneless pork chops on the BBQ with salad and potatoes (he decides how to cook them).  The person assigned to making the salad, gets to decide what goes into the salad, as well as what dressing they are going to make.  Unless it says Greek salad, of course, which is a favourite in our house, so there are never any arguments about what to put into it.

Yes, there is repetition, but that is okay.  Everyone likes predictability, especially kids.  If you have a few healthy meals that everyone likes, include most of them in your weekly menu.  Maybe agree to try one new meal a week.  Recently, we added No Weigh Jose Mexican Lasagne to our rotation and it is a huge hit.  We also enjoy a baked veggie casserole (no pasta) and roasted vegetable pasta, that includes eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms, and I catch the kids stealing mushrooms off of each others plates.

I also include who is making salad for each day, who is setting the table and who is clearing and cleaning up.  Yes, it takes some planning, but if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

One last thing, I always include dessert options on the menu.  Typically it is fruit and yogurt, but I like to make sure there is something there.  It is another way to make sure everyone is getting their 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables in the day.  One of the faves in our house is a leftover protein pancake with warmed berries and Greek yogurt, or a Flax seed Energy bar, made with peanut butter and dates.  When the weather is warm, I use leftover fruit and yogurt and make frozen yogurt popsicles, with chunks of fruit in them. Just a little something sweet to end the meal. 

This week’s Supper Menu:

Sunday: Roast Chicken (2, one for supper and one for lunches); spinach salad with Balsamic Dijon dressing, baked Yam slices and raw veggies (sliced cukes and tomato; carrot and celery sticks – make enough for lunches and snacks during the week).  For dessert: Strawberry-Rhubarb crumble with lemon yogurt drizzle

Monday: Vegetable soup and Cheesy Quinoa Bites.  For dessert: warmed berries with leftover protein pancake and yogurt

Tuesday: Turkey Hamburger soup with leftover salad (by the way, any leftover yams from Sunday supper went into the soup).  For dessert: fresh berries

Wednesday: Spaghetti and Green Salad.  For dessert: Flaxseed energy bars.

Thursday: BBQ chicken pieces, green salad and Simple Quinoa.  For dessert: fruit salad (made by the kids, with whatever fruit is left)

Friday: Pizza and Greek salad.  For dessert: Dessert pizza with fruit and yogurt. (Make chicken for wraps for Saturday)

Saturday: My son’s class campout!  So I guess it is Hot dogs and Hamburgers for supper (Any Moms attending this weekend, if you want Greek chicken wraps, email me, that is what I am bringing for me!)




Mother’s Day Menu

I know there are folks out there who love the treat of going out for supper.  There is no planning, no prep work, no cooking and no clean up.  Yes, it all sounds great.  A lovely relaxing evening out with the family, it is going to be wonderful.  Pile everyone into the car, drive 10-15-20 minutes.  “Mum, D keeps digging his elbow into my side.”  “But Mum, she keeps bumping my arm, and I miss my shot.”  Me: “I told you to leave the DS at home.”  Big sisters are both staring at the screen on one phone, and smirking.  Now to  find parking.  Oh yes, it is Mother’s day.  Guess we are not the only ones with this idea…  Finally, hubby drops everyone off at the door, and goes up the street to find parking.  By the time he meets us in the entrance way, we are in the waiting-for-a-table line… The wait time is 15 minutes.  “Mum, I’m starving!”  “Me too!”

When we finally get to a table, (remember we are 6), we are wedged between a family of 4 (2 teens and 2 adults), who are all “plugged in” to various handheld electronic devices, and a family of 5 plus Grandma.  At their table, the youngest is hauling on the loose belt of the high chair, the middle one is crawling under the table, Dad is staring at his phone and Mum and Grandma are trying to have a conversation about a Sister who opted not to join them, again, and haul the middle child out from under the table.  The oldest child (who looks to be about 6) is standing on the bench in their booth, and gazing over the table behind them.

At our table, my son has managed to bring the DS in from the car with him, and the one of the big girls has passed her phone to my 9 year old.  I glance around the table, and catch my husband’s eye.  He gives me his “Well, here goes nothing!” smile and then returns to looking over my son’s shoulder at the DS.  Well, at least there won’t be any complaining about how long it takes for our food to come….

This is NOT my idea of a pleasant way to spend Mother’s Day.  Sharing a meal with my family?  Yes, but I would much prefer to spend a few hours in the kitchen preparing something healthy and delicious for them (and me!), than the restaurant experience.  Then afterwards, I can enjoy their daily gift to me, of clearing the table and doing up the dishes and tidying the kitchen, while I enjoy a glass of wine on the deck, or a cup of tea in the living room.  And this year, I get to share that with my Mum who is visiting us over Mother’s Day.

So, my Mother’s Day gift to you is this delicious Menu that will be gracing our table tonight, as we sit down together, without DS’s or iphones or rogue children crawling under tables (we had an under-the-table crawler, who has since learned to enjoy the above the table experience, so I can say that!).

Mother’s Day Menu

To start:

Strawberry-Watermelon Lemon Crush

from One Perfect Bite.  However, we added one cup of watermelon in with the strawberries, and subbed 1/8 cup of Agave nectar for the 1/2 cup of sugar (watermelon is quite sweet on its own).  Then, we doubled the whole thing to make enough for everyone.

Crunch Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad

from the Ambitious Kitchen.

Sweet Chili Lime Turkey Burgers

from The Inspired Housewife

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Olive oil

Spinach and Kale salad with Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette

Dressing recipe from CD Kitchen

Avocado Salad

from The Clean Lunchbox

Thai Sweet Chili Noodles

from One Perfect Bite (make these with Buckwheat noodles, and sliced red peppers)

And for dessert:

Fresh Strawberries and Lemon chocolate tart

from Anne Lindsay’s New Light Cooking.  We subbed Coconut oil for the butter and honey for the corn syrup.


Happy Mother’s Day!



Mother’s day traditions

Ah, Mother’s day.  What do you love to plan or do to celebrate?  If you are a mother, do you like to be pampered and spoiled?  Or spend an uninterrupted day with your family?  If you plan Mother’s day (for your mother or your spouse), what do you like to plan for them?  Taking them to a restaurant?  Out for a treat?

Something that has become a bit of a treat in our house is going out for Ice cream on Mother’s day.  If the weather co-operates, which it normally does, here on Vancouver Island, we plan a walk as a family, and it almost always includes a stop for ice cream.  I remember my first Mother’s day, when my son was just six and a half months old, we took a walk on the seawall as a family, including my brother-in-law and (now) sister-in-law.  The weather was beautiful and warm, and we stopped for ice cream.  The flavour in my cone was Vanilla Cherry Custard.  Of course (but don’t tell the Public Health nurses!), I shared a taste with my baby.  Well, it was so cute to see his already big brown eyes grow round, and his little tongue reach out for more.  That was it, he was in love.  Ice cream is still his favourite treat.  Our dear next door neighbours love to spoil him on his birthday with an ice cream cake.  He anticipates it every year, “do you think they will?”  and of course, they never disappoint.  This year, however, we will be postponing our Ice cream treat by a week.  I have discovered a real gem right here on the Island.  Cold Comfort Ice Cream in Victoria.  Oh my goodness, what a treat! Pure homemade Ice cream, made right here on Vancouver Island.   And the flavours: How about Triple Berry Cream Cheese Ice Cream sandwiches with graham cracker butter cookies?  Or Dairy free chocolate with Mango? My favourite: Vanilla with cherries and chocolate.  If you are going to be in Victoria, check them out for some incredible homemade treats.  You can visit their HQ at 809 Craigflower Road or visit their website for other locations around town that carry their ice cream.  So worth it!  We will be making a special trip next weekend as part of our day trip to the Capital city.

As a good friend says, “If you are going to have a treat, make it worth while.”  This is definitely worthwhile!

Happy Mother’s Day!